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Movies That Made Me: Fight Club (1999)

What can I say about Fight Club that I haven’t said a dozen times in a dozen different blogs over the past fifteen years? I don’t know, but this list is no where near complete without it.

I remember the first time I rented Fight Club. Actually, my Dad and I rented it at the behest of a Blockbuster employee. I remember my Dad turning it off about twenty minutes into it and most of the time when he did that, I would grab the tape and finish up the movie in my room later that night. Well, not that night. I was bored and uninspired and wrote Fight Club off as not for me.

Similar to my discovery of American Beauty, what brought me to Fight Club was the fantastic DVD release. It was widely considered one of the best early DVD releases and came in fantastic packing and on two discs. It was chocked full of special features, and for that alone I decided to buy a copy and give Fight Club a second chance. Man, I did not know what I was getting into.

My first watch of Fight Club on DVD was mind blowing. I finally saw the film for what it was and well… it spoke to me. In fact, it felt like it was written just for me. The issues I saw in the world, the way I didn’t want to be, and even the way I did want to be were all represented on the screen. It was a system of rules and beliefs for men, in a world where religion had failed and groups like the Shriners or Masons seemed lame, old fashioned, and out of touch.

After enjoying every special feature found on the discs, I watched the movie again… and again… and again. Everyday, for thirty days in high school, I watched Fight Club and it never grew old.

I read the book and discovered my favorite author Chuck Palahniuk through it. It was the first film to really introduce me to some of the ideals (although masked in not so savory violence) of Buddhism. Both of these discoveries have played major parts in my adult life.

I revisit Fight Club every few years and the messages I decipher from the film seem to change as I get older. I related to the disenfranchised youth. I agreed with the frustrated men who were brought up to believe we’d all be rich, successful, and famous. I realized that the consumer society we live in is total bullshit. And I also learned that domestic terrorism is probably not the answer.

Fight Club spoke/speaks to me because it’s self-aware and has no issue calling the world out for the bullshit that it is. The story embraces the anger and resentment that fuels men’s lives in a world where we have been cast aside and branded irrelevant. We can’t be too macho or we’re bullies, but we can’t be too sensitive because we are pussies. Instead, we have to walk some weird line where we have to change who we are depending on the person and the setting to come across not intimidating, but also not timid. It’s incredibly strange, and Fight Club is the one piece of fiction that seems to get that.

For me, Fight Club is a masterpiece. David Fincher elevated the book and even tacked on a more interesting/fun ending. The movie is dark, gritty, and talks about parts of society that no one wants to talk about. Then again, that’s what all of Chuck Palahniuk’s books do and that’s why I love them. They cast a spotlight on people, ideas, and secrets that seem to be invisible in broad daylight.

I believe Fight Club taught me to look at the world beyond the stuff marketers were selling. It mocked the consumer lifestyle enough for me to realize that what they were selling wasn’t going to make me happy nor was it real. It was all a fantasy to make you think you are something special. And I’ve carried that into my adult life and while at times it may be a bit harsh, I’m so glad I learned that lesson early on and didn’t spend my thirties disappointed that a strine green stripe pattern didn’t make me happy.

Favorite Quotes:
Tyler Durden: [31:14] The things you own end up owning you.

Narrator: [19:34] This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time.

Tyler Durden: [1:10:11] Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who’ve ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.

Tyler Durden: [1:24:27] You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fucking khakis. You’re the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.

Narrator: When people think you’re dying, they really, really listen to you, instead of just…

Marla Singer: – instead of just waiting for their turn to speak?

Tyler Durden: Do you know what a duvet is?

Narrator: It’s a comforter…

Tyler Durden: It’s a blanket. Just a blanket. Now why do guys like you and me know what a duvet is? Is this essential to our survival, in the hunter-gatherer sense of the word? No. What are we then?

Narrator: …Consumers?

Tyler Durden: Right. We are consumers. We’re the by-products of a lifestyle obsession.

Tyler Durden: Fuck off with your sofa units and strine green stripe patterns, I say never be complete, I say stop being perfect, I say let… lets evolve, let the chips fall where they may.

Narrator: [23:04] What do you do for a living?

Tyler Durden: Why? So you can pretend like you’re interested?

Narrator: You had to give it to him: he had a plan. And it started to make sense, in a Tyler sort of way. No fear. No distractions. The ability to let that which does not matter truly slide.

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One Comment

  1. I was late to the game on this movie. I never saw it in the theater, but bought the DVD. It wasn’t until a fellow manager in the Music Store I worked in watched it and said it changed his life that I gave it a shot. I was blown away and watched it a few more times over that weekend. This is a one of a kind movie that sadly we don’t get anymore. I’m glad you wrote about it!! RIP Meatloaf!

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